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newbie & Fawkes, rising from ashes
It's specific to my very old van (1987 Dodge B250).
Apparently in park, there's something that doesn't get cooled (was it the transmission fluid?). It was discussed in my Dodge thread in the Mechanical subforum.

In most vehicles, shouldn't be an issue.
"Cause how you get there is the worthier part." Shephard Book to Kaylee, Firefly

Apr-23 Update:
Van engine replaced, completed first two week National Forest shakedown voyage, now heading North!
Thanks for your kind & generous support! Smile

Yeah, what's the deal with not idling in park?  Seems to me more heat would be generated idling in drive, but what do I know?  I would idle in park and if my heat gauge went up I would increase the RPMs to increase airflow thru the radiator.  Most vehicles I'm familiar with have a transmission cooler built into the radiator and air moving across the radiator would help cool the transmission fluid.  An additional transmission cooler is a good idea too.
apparently with this era of dodge when in park the transmission pump is turned off and no fluid to the cooler but the torque converter is still spinning building up heat,need to be in drive to check the fluid level

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